May 082012
 

@pawandurani on twitter pointed me towards the story of Rinkle Kumari in Pakistan . I knew there was an issue vis-a-vis the rights of minorities across the board. I knew there were atrocities. but frankly, the occurrences across the border have not been in my line of sight. I read some articles/columns as and when I come across them, but it is very, very superficial reading. When Pawan pointed me to her story, i began reading about her in more detail. To paraphrase Stalin, one person’s story is a tragedy, millions are statistics

 

What i am going to do here is just compile content from various sources, it is heart rending. It is medieval and it makes you (me) cry at the tragedy of the entire thing. I totally respect journalists & activists such as Marvi Sirmed  in Pakistan working under tremendous pressure, in almost hostile territory,  not just towards minorities but also towards independent women who assert their citizenship rights,  to keep cases like this alive. I wonder if it was me, would I have that kind of courage that Marvi exhibits in such a hostile environment. or would it be more convenient to hold my peace …  I hope it is the former. I really do.

In short, Rinkle Kumari is one of the

three young Hindu women who were allegedly kidnapped, forcibly converted to Islam and married off to Muslim men chose to live with their husbands instead of their families after the Supreme Court of Pakistan on Wednesday allowed them to choose their future.

Though the three women — Rinkle Kumari, Lata and Asha — were allowed to choose according to their free will by the court, their relatives and civil rights activists alleged that injustice had been done to them as they chose to go with the men they were married to out of coercion.

 

Marvi Sirmed writes on this

Rinkle was kidnapped on February 24 by Naveed Shah and four other people. Police refused to lodge an FIR and to include the names of the influential Mian Aslam, Mian Rafique and their father Mian Mithu. She was produced in the court of Civil Judge Ghotki where she insisted on going to her family but the judge illegally sent her to the police custody in Sukkur Women’s Police Station. In sheer mockery of the President of Pakistan and his party Co-Chairperson, Mithu announced in front of many civil society activists that if Rinkle’s custody is snatched from him, he will set Mirpur Mathelo ablaze. The president had given a media statement against forced conversions earlier that day. “Come what may, justice will have to prevail” was the answer in a firm strong voice when I asked Raj Kumar, Rinkle’s uncle, if he was scared. Probably this resolve has come from years of persecution and injustice. “It has been decades that Hindu girls have been abducted and forcibly converted. We hear little or no voice at all against this oppression,” said Amar Lal, counsel to Rinkle Kumari’s family.

 

A press release put out by activists and civil society says that

It made us extremely concerned when Rinkle Kumari was produced in the Supreme Court on March 26 and after recording her statement in-camera, she screamed in front of media that she wanted to go to her mother and that she was converted forcibly. We are astonished to know that Mian Mithu has been involved in buying and selling of Hindu girls, as has been reported in Sindhi language newspapers and as per information from the victims’ families. A girl Anita was abducted and married to a Muslim from whose home Mian Mithu’s nephew abducted her and sold her to another hand. She is reportedly living with her fourth buyer, reportedly at the behest of this Mian Mithu.

 

Mian Mithu is a MP. Rinku Kumari is a barely educated woman with zero rights because of both her gender and her faith.

The Question is what should India do ? Does India offer citizenship rights to all Hindus in Pakistan? it could. But, then why not all Christians – they face tremendous discrimination as well? Why not people from Baluchistan? indeed why not Ahmediyas. Why not women who are discriminated against? After all, civilisationally & culturally we – especially the Northern part of us – has a lot in common with those across the border. In fact far more in common with them than with citizens from the South or the North East or even the East. Why not those in Bangladesh or in China or the Burmese or Tamils from Sri Lanka? And should the granting of asylum be only for those of Indian origin?

I personally believe that India needs to evolve a very pro active system of granting asylum. We need to start projecting an image that respects rights and gives a home to those who are persecuted, discriminated and not allowed to excercise human rights. Ancient kings in the sub continent provided asylum to those who came to their shores without imposing any conditions on religion or colour. Be it the Siddhis or the Jews or the Iranians (Parsis) – they made their home and could practise their ways without interference.  The Government of India needs to throw open its doors to asylum seekers not just  in the neighbourhood, but world over

Will there be infiltration by unwanted elements. There already is. But the needs of the many outweigh the hate of the few. There will be those who misuse the system of asylum but one Rinkle Kumari saved outweighs the risk posed by the infiltrators.  Being a superpower is more than a seat at the security council. It is also standing up and being counted. India needs to open its doors for those who want to asylum. It needs to empower our consulates and embassies to grant asylum. The Indian embassies worldwide need to become the symbols of freedom. India needs to live up to its civilisational heritage – and that is more than a number system with a zero base.

Start offering asylum & citizenship  to the discriminated in Pakistan. Don’t be afraid of starting with providing asylum to the Hindus.  Set the precedent. Set the system and expand it to all who desire ashraya

Also have a look at this on storify 

Nov 292011
 

And after 4 days when the terrorists terrorized, the media went ballistic and people watched a spectator sport – it ended today, 3 years ago.

This morning I tried to look for the names of the police and the NSG men who died in the terror attacks. difficult to find the names in one place. Almost nada. Nothing. Zilch… there is something to be said about a culture that doesn’t mourn its dead, doesn’t feel a sense of loss … maybe that is why we get attacked – time and again. Not just because we have inept and venal politicians, but because the people don’t care.

The dead

JCP Hemant Karkare

ACP Ashok Kamte

PI Vijay Salaskar

PI Shashank Shinde

PSI Prakash More

PSI Baburao S. Dhurgude

PC A.R. Chitte

PC Vijay Khandekar

APSI Balwant C. Bhosale

APSI Tukaram S. Ombale

PC Yogesh Patil

PC Jayant H. Patil

PC Ambadas Pawar

PHC, RPF, M.C. Chaudhari

PHC, SRPF Rahul S. Shinde

Constable, Home GuardMukesh B. Jadhav

Major Sandip Unnikrushnan, NSG

Hv. Gajendra Singh, NSG

you read the addresses of the police who died – not the officers but the men -chawl x and chawl y. Do we even think about how the police live and work … to dismiss them with the ‘sab chor hai’ is so very, very wrong …

Ask… think. Reflect …

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The list of all  those who died- police, security forces, civilians  –  in the terror attacks – Mumbai 26/11 via @onlysilly on twitter

Nov 282011
 

My column in today’s DNA

26/11. A day three years ago, when the average Mumbaikar’s sense of relative security was ripped out.

It isn’t that Mumbai was a haven of security and peace. Quite the contrary. The last two decades had been quite traumatic for the city of dreams. First came the gang wars, followed by the riots and then by bomb blasts s in the first few years of the 1990s. This had an impact on  the fabric of the city, and its psyche went through trauma that was best associated with other places Then came the sporadic bomb blasts – targeting trains, buses, inflicting death, damage and fear  on a population that was on the move, trying to create a better life for itself and its families. Yet the city plodded on. Then came the floods – a random cloudburst that shook the city up. You still see the aftermath of that incident. A heavy downpour and half of Mumbai seems to be indoors. And, then came 26/11. Possibly, the most traumatic of the lot. Not because it happened in the elite areas of Mumbai. Not even because of the toll, but because the enemy – and let’s not mince words about who they were – were able to sneak into our city with the utmost ease, and unleash carnage, while all that we could do was wait and watch. That they were able to do this in multiple locations including trains stations, hospitals and hotels with ease makes one feel even less secure. The kind of impotence and paralysis associated with the four days of bloodbath was without parallel. An elite, highly indoctrinated, professionally trained, well-armed killer squad landed in your city, your country, and killed, and killed and killed – and there was no way to stop them.

Three years down the line, what is 26/11 signify. Like much else in this country – a ritual. A ritual where we take out old candles and light them, a ritual in which we send a file to Pakistan to ask for justice, a ritual in which television anchors, newspaper editors and intelligentsia pontificate on what was, what should be and what isn’t. 26/11 has become a ritual. A ritual like all others. Garlands, flowers, candles, meaningless words – but have we really learnt ?

The primary goal of the state is to keep its citizens secure. And, to ensure this security forces have to be well staffed, well trained, well armed, well coordinated.  Mumbai, three years after 26/11, faces a 40 per cent shortage of police personnel. There simply aren’t enough police to take care of  law and order, let alone a terror attack. The remaining anti-terror infrastructure promised in the aftermath of the 26/11 attacks is still in the distant horizon. There is no political party asking why jobs are not being filled – by locals or otherwise. There is no rath yatra highlighting the miserable state of security across the nation, and there is no activism on keeping citizens secure. While it may be impossible to prevent terror attacks 100% of the time, it shouldn’t be this easy for the enemy to get through the gates.

The response of the Americans and the Europeans to terror attacks on their territory was all party consensus on  the way forward. Can you see our politicians, our civil society, our citizens coming together on anything? If the Congress proposes something, the BJP has to oppose and vice versa. Everything is a party political issue. Everything is geared towards capturing the headlines. And, political capital is sought to be built on every little aspect of Governance – be it FDI or security. National Interest takes a back seat in this political edition of Tom and Jerry. What politicians seem to forget is that while Tom and Jerry is fun to watch, does one  really want them in charge of the Nation?

And Finally, Everyone knows where the terrorists came from. Everyone knows who funded them, trained them and deployed them. They also know that these weren’t non-state actors but a State itself. So why does India persist in this delusion of ‘we need to be friends’ with Pakistan. They aren’t our friends. They never have been. There doesn’t have to be a logical, understandable reason for their visceral hatred towards India. What there has to be is an appreciation on the Indian side, that some people just want to see your country burn. And those people are not hidden away in caves in the Hindukush mountains, but are within the Government of Pakistan.

 

Sep 142011
 

So Pakistan Published an Ad on 9/11. In the WSJ.

The trouble with laughing so much that your stomach hurts, is that there is no time to feel outrage :D

And, then given that it is the net and there is a comic hidden under every ID – came the response

Boss, who ever you are, where ever you may be *claps* .. and thankyou
As Atal Behari Vajpayee once said poster ka jawaab poster se do :D
(he didn’t, it was in reference to books, but hey, this is the net. if Pak can put out that ad, I can misquote ABV)

Jul 272011
 

I grew up learning Carnatic Vocal music. Learnt the Veena for a while as well. But, today most of my music listening tends to be Hindustani Classical Music. Especially Vocal music. I find the form – which is non regimented – a delight to hear. Here a typical raga – let’s say Bhairavi – sung by two different exponents from two different gharanas – and the experience will be completely different.

Generally the full form of Hindustani Classical music is often forbidding for a new comer. It seems to be a lot of “aa aa aa aa” (as my brother once told me). That is the singer exploring and expounding on the Raga. Its a pleasure and a revelation. For example, one of my favorite ragas is Miyan ki Todi and my favorite singer is Bhimsen Joshi. I have 9 long forms of this Raga sung at various concerts, at different points of times in his life. Each is a different experience for the listener, but also in the way the singer explores and weaves his magic.

A good starting point for the newbie to Hindustani classical Music is the myriad Hindi film songs composed in a number of ragas and sung by popular singers and for a variety of moods and seasons. Atleast that is the way I began. there used be this morning show on All India Radio – its still on – called sur sangam. It explores a raga. It tells you the unique aspects of the Raga. It discusses the raga with a classical singer. It plays a classical piece and it plays a film song. A great primer and a great introduction to the genre. Semi classical music – such as Thumris, classical Qawalis and classical Bhajans can also be a great way of picking up various ragas. Thumris are love songs. They look at various aspects of love – from the anticipation of meeting the lover, to the joys of being with the lover, to the throes of despair on separation. Depedning on the Gharana – the thumri can be sung as a yearning for the lover or yearning for God (the bhakti ras).

One of the most famous Thumri’s in Hindustani Classical music is Babul Mora. It was composed by Wajid Ali Shah (played by Amjad Khan in the film Shatranj Ke Khiladi) the deposed ruler of Oudh during his exile in Calcutta. It is supposed to be the longing of a woman for her maternal home. Having said that the best renditions of the song have been by men.

 

This is Bhimsen Joshi – live in concert at Baroda – singing Babul Mora

Part 2 is here

And, of course, the version that made it popular amongst the masses. Kundan Lal Saigal singing Babul Mora in Devdas

 

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I actually didn’t manage to get the camera out today. Completely busy. Started the morning by signing a contract with Film Orbit for running Jhing Chik Jhing on their site. Also interesting conversations on content. interesting possibilities.

this is one i shot yesterday

30 day Project Day 20 -rings

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Pakistan has sent their young and extremely photogenic foreign minister, Mrs.Hina Rabbani Khar,to India. the Indian news media – which has the collective IQ and sense of a retarted hedgehog seems to be fida on her. Completely forgetting the Bombay Blasts, 26/11 and all the other dead from all the other blasts and other terrorist strikes that have originated across the border. She arrived on the day of the Kargil victory and promplty met Kashmiri separatists in Delhi. Maybe we should let her host a dinner party for Dawood Ibrahim in Parliament grounds … after all it is important to achieve peace for our time.